Mercedes has switched things up for the new A-class by amplifying traits such as space, comfort, quality, restrained style and tech
The new A-class Limousine is Mercedes’ push back into the luxury sedan segment in India and essentially replaces the first-gen CLA. Compared to the old CLA, the new A-class Limousine looks far more grown up and in line with the rest of the Mercedes sedan family.
The car looks attractive in profile, with a single, confident shoulder line and a smart-looking set of 17-inch alloy wheels. The rear features a simpler iteration of the CLS’ angular LED tail lamps and strangely sited reflector strips in the bumper, but it all ties together well as a cohesive design.
The cabin is a mix of high-quality plastics, soft-touch materials, open-pore wood inserts, neatly executed bright work and cream coloured upholstery.
The dashboard design is in line with other new-gen Mercedes on sale in India with twin 10.25-inch free-standing displays taking pride of place atop the dashboard.
It is packed with features, including 64-colour ambient lighting, an AI-based digital assistant and connected-car tech with Alexa integration. You even get a choice of layout for the digital dials.
The front seats are a touch smaller than in a C-class but they are still comfortable. This is important because this is more likely than any other Mercedes sedan to be self-driven.
Spacious and punchy
It is at the back where the shift from four-door-coupe to sedan has really paid off. Space is really generous for the car’s size, particularly kneeroom (thanks to the long 2,729mm wheelbase) and the headroom, thanks to the taller roof.
The A-class will be available in A 200 petrol, A 200d diesel and AMG A35 spec, though here we focus only on the former two. While in the C-class ‘200’ denotes a 2.0-litre petrol, in the A 200, it is a 1.3-litre turbo petrol that makes a pretty healthy 163hp and 250Nm of torque paired with a 7-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox.
The engine is reasonably refined at start-up and at low revs. However, get it above 3,500rpm and the unit becomes audible. In the Comfort mode, the easy-going gearbox does not quite mask the turbo-lag. Sport mode rectifies this a great deal, but then you are constantly aware of the engine working harder. Still, once it is on the boil, responses are good. However, the DCT, while quick to shift, can feel a little clunky under duress.
The A 200d packs in the familiar OM654 2.0-litre diesel, but here it puts out 150hp and 320Nm, and is paired with a new 8-speed dual-clutch auto gearbox. First impressions are rather good, and it actually feels the more refined of the two for everyday use. The unit makes all its torque from really low down. Push the engine hard and you are rewarded with a solid burst of power though you also get quite a bit of torque steer, and the diesel clatter becomes quite audible.
This certainly feels the stronger of the two engines, and if the price gap isn’t too big between the two, it would be our pick.
The raised suspension for India doesn’t hinder ride quality which is even better than some of its larger sedan siblings.
The petrol’s softer setup takes the edge off sharp bumps superbly and even high-speed stability is quite good. The diesel’s firmer set up lets more road imperfections filter into the cabin, though that is not to say it’s uncomfortable.
On the handling front, the A-class sedan is not exactly a corner carver. There is quite a bit of body roll, the ESC cuts in even when turned off, and the steering is quite light. But then comfort is the name of the game with this sedan, and at that, it excels.
It is clear that Mercedes has learnt from its first generation of MFA cars and switched things up for the new A-class. It no longer feels ‘entry level’ in any way, and it amplifies the traits buyers look for in their Benz such as space, comfort, quality, restrained style and tech. There will be only one fully loaded variant of each, and we expect them to cost about ₹ 40-42 lakh (ex-showroom). So, is it a worthy starting point to the Mercedes-Benz family? This time around, it sure feels like it.